In Jefferson County, Colorado, a controversy has emerged as some parents allege that teachers have violated state and federal laws by having students fill out surveys about their gender and preferred pronouns. These parents claim that the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA), the local teachers’ union, is aiding and abetting the teachers in these actions.
Federal and Colorado state laws consider gender identity and preferred pronouns to be “protected information.” However, the school district maintains uncertainty regarding the legality of such surveys. Nonetheless, numerous lawsuits on this matter have arisen, prompting administrators to instruct teachers not to address the issue or conduct any surveys.
Parents like Denice Crawford expressed their concerns about these surveys, especially since they believed the district had sent emails reminding parents of the illegality of mandatory surveys requesting protected information. Crawford felt deceived when her son brought home a survey asking about his gender identity. Parents who are members of Jeffco Kids First claimed that dozens of teachers conducted such surveys and that the JCEA provided instructions on how to keep the surveys secret.
The email sent to teachers from the JCEA advised conducting paper-and-pencil surveys instead of digital ones, as digital records are more permanent and may be subject to federal law requests. Teachers were also encouraged to make notations about students but not retain documents. This has led to concerns about potential risks to teachers’ jobs and licenses.
While the JCEA argued that it received contradictory instructions regarding gender identity and pronouns, the school district provided clear guidance against gender surveys and promised not to keep such information from parents. The controversy underscores the divisive nature of the issue and raises questions about transparency and respect for parental rights in the education system.